Friday, September 21, 2012

Entheogens, Culture and the Conscious Brain

Entheogens, Culture and the Conscious Brain (27 min video) Chris King 21-9-12
A companion video to the research review Entheogens, the Conscious Brain and Existential Reality with source footage of the cultural traditions as well as the scientific discoveries.

Comments on the video:

Synapse: Thanks!  a welcome addition to the textual document! This is now among the best information available on YouTube (or more generally, in video format), to my knowledge, of the current state-of-the-art. 

Arlene: Excellent Chris! Would love you to do a doc on the politics of consciousness ... To expand upon why they have  been suppressed ... Why they pose a threat to tptb ... Also about the purpose and function of ego dissolution as it relates to planetary healing and sustainability ... Why those who  condemn psychedelics are hell bent on the manifestation of Armageddon ...

George D: Excellent video Chris. Thank you for sharing and I will be circulating it through my mailing list. Aloha

John B: Watched it last night. Excellent. The argument was clear, not to say intriguing. It's good work you do. All the best!


Sunday, August 19, 2012

Love CD from Niño

The latest remastered compilation of my unforgettable world music - complex and subtle in the pursuit of love and the fractal chaos that real music is. A sumptuous feast of love and love's bitter-sweet entanglements!

Get the whole CD in mp3 (zip 90 mB)

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Entheogens, the Conscious Brain and Existential Reality


 Entheogens, the Conscious Brain and Existential Reality


 A journey to the edge of life and death and back again ..... >>>> HERE 


A ‘state of the art’ research overview of what is currently known about how entheogens, including the classic psychedelics, affect the brain and transform conscious experience through their altered receptor dynamics, and to explore their implications for understanding the conscious brain and its relationship to existential reality, and their potential utility in our cultural maturation and understanding of the place of sentient life in the universe.


Saturday, June 2, 2012

Unfolding the Visionary Path of the Tree of Life

Sacramental meditation is the most powerful complete form of religious experience.

PDF Version  

"But I, I am lord of two ways. I am master of up and down. 
I am as a man who is a new man, with new limbs and life, and the light 
of the Morning Star in his eyes. Lo! I am I! The lord of both ways. 
Thou wert lord of the one way. Now it leads thee to the sleep. Farewell ! 

So Jesus went on towards the sleep. And Mary the Mother of Sorrows 
lay down on the bed of the white moon, weary beyond any more tears. 
"And I, I am on the threshold. I am stepping across the border."
D H Lawrence "The Plumed Serpent" 

Into the Centre of the Cyclone Again

A couple of days ago, for the first time in a year and a half, because like most people, I  am habitually fearful of my mind being torn apart by visionary transcendence, I persuaded myself to imbibe a powerful whack of the very best crisp dried sacred mushrooms, as a devotional meditation, lest the passage of the years carry me unrequited at the age of sixty seven ever closer to the edge of dissolution before I have fulfilled my covenant with existence and the tree of living diversity.

As the great wave of reverie broke over me, they gave me an overflowing and integrated vision of how cosmic consciousness comes about in the universe, in one of the cleanest, and yet strongest, spiritual experiences I have had, totally restoring my sense of psychic vitality and meaning, as they have countless times in younger days, as the sheet-sail for my tortuous journey through life.

Real religious sacraments have to be able to be powerful enough agents to be able to transport us into the mysterium tremendum. They also require meditative vigil to enter deeply into the experience. I try to retreat into reflective solitude, without thought processes or internal dialogue, lying watchfully, with eyes sometimes open and sometimes closed and often half-open and half-closed as the Buddha is depicted as doing, tuning consciousness with my breathing into a resonant state of attention sensitive to the ensuing visionary miasma.

I won't go into all the incidental details of the retinal circus, the complex dynamically interlacing 3-D fibers and fractals, their rushing vortices and shrieking currents, of entering many interconnected layers of dreaming and waking reality, or even a vision of being transported to join God in heaven, with Saint Peter ushering me in on a stage decorated a little like a New Orleans carnival.

The key is the overwhelming power, truth, beauty and integrity of the experience, convincing me in its full intuitive detail, yet again, that the living sacraments contain the genuine royal blood, or sang raal, route to religious knowing, beneficial to all life. By the same connection I naturally inherit a personal responsibility to 'turn the tables' on false, fraudulent and violent traditions of religion, for the sake of life and the planetary future.

let's get to the key issue

How the Universe generates Transcendental Consciousness

Now let's get to the key issue - "How does transcendental mystery emerge from the natural universe?"

The cosmos is a complementarity, in which subjective consciousness and the objective universe complement and complete one another just as wave and particle aspects of the quantum do in physics. It is also what the Upanishads and virtually all Eastern teachings say, from Tantra to Tao. Without this cosmic complementarity, our personal experience has no meaning, or real existence, just an internal model of reality made by the brain.

Now the interesting turning inside out bit is this. To fulfill conscious realization requires a complex inversion of physical cosmology, beginning with the mandala of the symmetry-broken forces of nature, leading to a fractal quantum architecture of atoms, molecules, biogenesis and ultimately tissues and organisms through the evolutionary process. Ultimately all the forces and evolutionary processes come together in the emergence of organismic subjective consciousness in the evolution of the brain invoking all the forces in their most complicated and coherent interaction.

Only then can cosmogenesis begin to manifest subjective consciousness through the sappy holographic biochemical brain, which has evolved to make animals able to anticipate future threats to survival in the computationally intractable open environment through processes which most plausibly are happening through space-time entanglement at the quantum level thus manifesting the cosmic complementarity that set this whole thing off. There is no way this can be reduced to a purely electrochemical phenomenon or a bit based computation like a digital computer.

Now, in this process, cosmic consciousness can and does arise only through the individual subjective consciousness of the biota - i.e. the living species especially subjectively conscious animal species. There is no independent third party personality of God pulling the marionette strings, but there is a natural propensity in human consciousness for religious experience, because, although the brain has to close down the doors of perception sufficiently to enable subjective consciousness to protect organismic survival, it can't do it completely, because the brain evolved so the doors of perception were open enough to anticipate reality.

If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite.
For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things through narrow chinks of his cavern.
William Blake "The Marriage of Heaven and Hell"

Consequently people throughout history have had a gathering sense that there is a transcendental conscious reality burgeoning up within their individual consciousness and try to talk about it in terms of deities, God, supernatural spirits and psychic influences, thus giving rise to the major world religions and in the case of Christianity, to the false deification of Jesus as transcendental demi-God in the Hellenistic tradition of Paul of Tarsus.

The reality is that God exists only in so far as we can enter into deeper more cosmic forms of subjective consciousness ourselves, in which the egotistical bundle of life becomes loosened enough so that our personal consciousness can come to reflect transcendental consciousness beginning to come alive in us. Thus, in coming to know ourselves no longer through a glass darkly, but now face to face, we are the universe coming to know itself consciously, fulfilling the cosmic becoming and completing the turning inside out.

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: 
now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known (1 Corinth 13)

Now, because life is immortal, or at least perennial in the intermediate term, transcendental consciousness is not confined to the mortality of any single individual, but can become manifest in each and every conscious being, in so far as we can enter into the grail state. Moreover transcendental consciousness may in principle be eternal as a phenomenon extending in space-time in the same sense that the envelope of space-time is eternal because it extends throughout all time. It may also have a cumulative capacity to become aware of itself through the biota over long epochs. We don't yet know what the implications of this possibility might be.

The source of transcendental consciousness lies in the biota. Only the biota possess the resonant complexity to be the location of "God consciousness" and it is to the living diversity of the biota and the passage of the generations of humanity we need to give our creative devotion and protection. This is not merely a form of animism, seeing God in natural phenomena, but the reverse, natural phenomena giving rise to transcendental consciousness in evolution.

Casting Out False Gods and Pagan Demi-Gods

However we need to be very clear. There is no God in the skies, in the centre of stars, in black holes, or dark wastes of the universe. The source, and the only source, of transcendental consciousness, or any form of consciousness, natural, omniscient or omnipotent lies in the biota, because only the biota have the physical complexity and sensitivity to support subjective consciousness. God cannot come alive or become conscious more than we can come alive and be conscious ourselves, in our transcendental experience, by bringing about a beneficent age of conscious enlightenment together. To fulfill our existential quest and our personal responsibility to our incarnation, we each need to put away childish 'things', and give our love and devotion to replenishing the generations of the Earth's unfolding conscious life process.

When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: 
but when I became a man, I put away childish things (1 Corinth 13)

Although Jesus was a brilliant visionary genius, and his teachings, especially in sayings such as those in the Gospel of Thomas, are inspired, worshiping Jesus as the crucified Lord and savior, the only begotten Son sacrificed by God to save us from sin, who will return to judge and condemn the sinful world, is a tragic fallacy that has led to martyrdom, Crusade and Inquisition, as well as gross religious fraud. The Christian notion of brotherly, or selfless, love is not an adequate rationalization to justify the root fallacy of turning Jesus into a pagan demi-God dripping blood on every church altar, amid a utopian end of days deleterious to our planet's living future.

Because the central core is a fallacy, prayers are doomed to be ineffectual, except in so far as they are a form of meditation, which helps individuals come closer to the centre of the cyclone of transcendental consciousness. Many people engage prayer as an internal conversation with an imagined supernatural personality. This serves to reinforce a feeling of safety, through belief in an imagined moral deity who watches us unseen, but this is far from actual spiritual realization.

Charismatic Christian visions and speaking in tongues are likewise founded on the same root fallacy - dependence on the untrue notion that salvation comes, and can come, only through the savior, rather than by personal realization, obstructing the capacity for transcendental consciousness. Ever since Athanasius banned the gnostic gospels to establish the Catholic canon, with the exception of a few Christian mystics, many of whom, like Marguerite Porete have been burned at the stake, Christianity has been truncated at the neck.

Many of the key questions concerning transcendence have yet to be tested in the current era. We haven't unraveled the full nature of transcendental consciousness, at this point in time, so discovering to what extent it can 'supernaturally' or 'quantum physically' anticipate the future, or influence future events is an ongoing research process, we are all participating in and can only explore through the transcendental condition.

Traditional religions, rather than fulfilling the unfolding of transcendence, become oppressive and sometimes diabolical social forces of the rule of civic order, empowering domination over other cultures, by asserting moral paradigms which aid internal cooperation to achieve utopian dominion over other cultures and societies. This deceit hijacks the source process transcendence, the priesthood claiming to be the guardians of it, at the same time as repressing it  Prophets from Zechariah to Jesus, not to mention Baha'ullah have all felt the violence of the established order.

This is a totalitarian social process, driven not by prophetic consciousness, or visionary experience, but historically by the established religious order, imposing patterns of belief in a moral deity, a paradigm of religious and social dominion, and repressive social attitudes towards women and female reproductive choice, for male cultural and reproductive ends.

The Entheogenic Destiny of Sacramental Religion

Into this unholy situation enters an exotic disrupting influence to the rule of theological order, in the form of the entheogenic species, particularly those of the alien New World, which every culture who has discovered them has given sacred and revered status to, despite many being violent warrior cultures. These raised a unique challenge to the sanguine Christian sacramental tradition and so were promptly repressed by the Conquistadors as diabolical practices. The use of sacred mushrooms became a hidden and carefully guarded Mazatec secret which only came to light in 1953 due to the explorations of the ethno-mycologist banker Gordon Wasson. "Perhaps you will learn the names of a number of renowned curanderos, and your emissaries will even promise to deliver them to you, but then you wait and wait and they never come. … The judge in the town hall may be the very man you are seeking and you may pass the time of day with him yet never know that he is your curandero."

  Maria Sabina during a sacred mushroom velada.

“Whirling woman of the whirlwind am I, says
woman of a sacred, enchanted place am I, says
Woman of the shooting stars am I. ...
I am a spirit woman, says
I am a crying woman, says
I am Jesus Christ, says ...
I'm the heart of the virgin Mary.”

Eventually Wasson was introduced to Maria Sabina who had had a vision that he would come and to let him partake. The sacred mushroom, whose ‪Nahuatl‬ title was teonanacatl or 'flesh of the gods', was hailed by Wasson as "the divine mushroom of immortality", calling it "Ecstasy!" after Greek ekstasis - flight of the soul from the body. "Your very soul is seized and shaken until it tingles, until you feel that you will never recover your equilibrium", likening its effects to Pentecost, and noting himself its authentic nature as a natural successor to the Eucharist: "By comparison with the mushroom, the Element in the Christian agape seems pallid. The mushroom holds the key to a mystical union with God, whereas only rare souls can attain similar ecstasy and divine communion by intensive contemplation of the miracle of the Mass."

Reaction to the release of the secret was swift. Maria Sabina's house was burned to the ground and one of her sons was killed. Within a few days, a Mexican botanist had phoned the CIA to confirm Wassons find, and an agent was dispatched as a mole on Wasson's return trip, demonstrating the Western establishment's proactively malign attitude. By 1966 psilocybin had become a schedule I prohibited drug, swept along by social anxiety about LSD use, and scientific research became effectively stalled for decades.

Fortunately, the Earth has been blessed with some very potent and yet beneficent living sacraments. Psilocybin found in sacred mushrooms, for example, has an active dose a thousand times smaller than the mean lethal dose, no confirmed evidence of long term harm, and no verifiable tendency towards addiction. Alcohol by contrast, along with heroin, methamphetamine and paracetamol, has a mean lethal dose only some ten times higher than the active dose.

The sacred mushroom is not a drug, but a living sacrament, like the food species on which we depend for our survival, which contain biodynamic molecules conducive to life. The active agent is trustworthy since it is genetically produced in pure form by suitable species of psilocybe.

  Maria Sabina, who lived to the ripe old age of 91, freely ate sacred mushrooms as a young child with no ill effects:

"Maria Anna and I were taking care of our chickens in the woods so that they wouldn't become the victims of hawks or foxes. I saw near me within reach of my hand several mushrooms. I remembered my grandparents spoke of these mushrooms with great respect. After eating the mushrooms we felt dizzy as if we were drunk and I began to cry, but this dizziness passed and we became content. Later we felt good. It was a new hope in our life. In the days that followed, when we felt hungry we ate the mushrooms. And not only did we feel our stomachs full, but content in spirit as well. I felt that they spoke to me. After eating them I heard voices. Voices that came from another world. …  I felt as if everything that surrounded me was god. We ate lots many times, I don't remember how many. Sometimes grandfather and at other times my mother came to the woods and would gather us up from the ground on which we were sprawled or kneeling. 'What have you done?' they asked. They picked us up bodily and carried us home. In their arms we continued laughing singing or crying. They never scolded us nor hit us for eating mushrooms. Because they knew it isn't good to scold a person who has eaten the little things, because it causes contrary emotions and it is possible that one might feel one was going crazy" (Estrada A. 1981 Maria Sabina, Her Life and Chants 39-40).

Because evolution explores the "phase space" of possibilities, it is virtually inevitable that the biosphere will include species containing agents that will modulate the sappy biochemical brain in just such a way as to open the doors of perception (for example as serotonin 2A receptor agonist neurotransmitter analogues), so that our organismic individual 'ego' consciousness finds itself facing the overwhelming flood tide of a reality that brings all our experiences, from dream, memory and reflection into one kaleidoscopic vision of the totality - be it heaven or hell, depending on how positively or negatively we engage the experience at the time.  Even people in terminal conditions, who might be anxious or have a negative mind set, confirm the beneficial effect of being given access to the psychic resolution such agents can provide in carefully undertaken research studies.

Christianity is a sacramental religion whose holy communion is sine qua non founded on eating the flesh and drinking the blood, the soma and sangre of the sacrificed redeemer. This cannibalistic sacrament is a false sacrament because God sacrificing his only begotten Son is a false belief. The bread and wine is at worst a gruesome enactment of neolithic blood sacrifice and at best is no more effective spiritually than the mildest alcoholic tipple. The true destiny of the Christian tradition, as a sacramental tradition, thus lies paradoxically and prophetically in the living sacraments of the Tree of Life noted in the closing verses of Revelation.

In taking a long term view, one could validly accept that Jesus was merely a forerunner of what I am proactively saying now as 'messiah guardian' of the Tree of Life and that the sacramental nature of Christianity is just a forerunner of the perennial sacramental devotional path protecting the way of the tree of living diversity in the passage of the generations. Jesus was inspired, but before the time of the planetary unveiling we have witnessed in our scientific coming of age and the dire global impacts of humanity across the face of the Earth, so his teachings are brilliant foresights, but distorted by the paranoia of confrontation and violence of the Roman occupation.

Christianity in turn, having been crafted in contradiction to Jesus' teachings by church fathers with their own fraudulent agendas, is struggling to be a sacramental guardian of the end of days, based on endlessly reliving the crucifixion, rather than providing an authentic path to transcendental consciousness. Both Jesus and Christianity are stage rehearsals for the unveiling, confessedly seen through a glass darkly before the advent of the unveiling of planetary consciousness in our pivotal time and age, where we have discovered the nature of the human genome, genetic evolution, molecular biology, the quantum forces of nature, and are knocking on the threshold of our cosmological origins and how the brain generates subjective consciousness.

To turn this around in positive terms, bringing the Western religious tradition into consonance with the Tree of Life is both its natural and prophetic destiny, and its redemption, in one of the oldest, most beautiful, cultural traditions, from the Sabbatical Genesis and the Garden of Eden, to the Song of Songs, becoming the genuine cultural tradition of our coming of age in the universe.

Notice the profound contradiction between the ignorant paranoid reaction of our so-called enlightened democratic Western society, with its nominal protections of civil liberties, which has banned sacred mushrooms and the other natural entheogens, despite their manifest safety, particularly when partaken in a protective environment, confirmed by two to three thousand years of sacred use by human cultures. It is most telling that they have been banned without any real evidence of harm, or danger, for the very reason that they do open the doors of perception and thus threaten the social order of Western Christian and material consumer culture.

It is then little wonder, although a devastating commentary on the spiritual fragility of Western society that we have sought to ban these genuine agents of enlightenment with severe penalties from long imprisonment even to execution, in a futile attempt to repress them. Penalties comparable to Deuteronomy's dire punishments for adultery, parental disobedience, or worshiping strange gods, rather than a scientifically and religiously tested openness to incorporate them into our traditional religious life. Society is prepared to continue to do this despite the fact that in all experiments where conventional non drug-taking people are given the opportunity to experience these agents, they consistently claim to have had genuine religious spiritual experiences which remain of beneficial significance and meaning to their lives years later.

 Union Vegetale ceremony

Of course the road to sacramental religion is not an easy one. Many people would rather some other intrepid traveler would face the challenge of their sensory experience being razzled by kaleidoscopic visions and their rational edifice being unraveled by the onslaught of unfamiliar and unspeakable mysteries. This is aptly why those who seek an ordered comforting world, where everything seems to make sense, even if it is a fraudulent doctrine, will place their faith in the authority of a religion where they must follow a set of prescriptive beliefs and practices and obey the instructions of the clergy.

Nevertheless there are clear pointers and precedents for genuine sacramental religion having a real place in the current world in the religious use of peyote, ayahuasca and sacred mushrooms. The Native American Church has used peyote in this way and the Union Vegetale in the Amazon has an ongoing tradition of sacramental visionary use of ayahuasca, both sometimes in a quasi-Christian context, and the use of sacred mushrooms continues, both among scattered Mexican peoples, and young seekers of entheogenic experience in the developed world, despite, or even because of, the allure and forbidden fruit curiosity, over their dire taboos.

Authentic Apocalypse and the Tree of Life

Throughout history some individuals have always been more able to enter the visionary portal than others, because their genes have predisposed their brain chemistry to be closer to the edge of 'sanity'. Humans vary up to a 100-fold for instance in their monoamine oxidase activity, profoundly affecting their serotonin metabolism. William Blake is a person who was gifted with a natural tendency to visionary experience, a tendency shared by many prophets, sages and shamans throughout history.

 The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed with the Sun 
William Blake.

And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; 
a woman clothed with the sun, 
and the moon under her feet, and upon her head 
a crown of twelve stars:
And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, 

and pained to be delivered.
And there appeared another wonder in heaven; 

and behold a great red dragon, 
having seven heads and ten horns, 
and seven crowns upon his heads (Rev 12).

However many of these visionary and prophetic experiences, sometimes driven by starvation, sensory deprivation, self-abuse, long desert vigils, or even borderline psychosis, far from being more authentic manifestations of higher consciousness, are often stereotyped, limited and paranoid visions of cosmic conflict and violence amid seeing the "light of God" or a vision of the "holy one". Sometimes these are perceived prophetically as a vision of the future with God a figure white hair, riding on chariots of fire, or the vengeful Lord, condemning a third of the stars and trees and a third of all life on the face of the Earth, to extinction in a final war between dark and light.

This is no redemption at all, but leads towards a tragic outcome, in which major world cultures are deleteriously positioned to cause an apocalyptic hard-landing for humanity, substantially through desert-loving scorched-earth religious attitudes, which invoke the rape of the planet as an act of God and are incapable of being any form of antidote to the damage caused by materialistic venture-capital exploitation of the worlds natural, genetic and non-renewable resources and living habitats through a male-dominated short term investment blind to long-term sustainability.

Apocalypse is real because human consciousness has a genetic propensity for religious experience through the doors of perception being leaky enough to let in the light of the unveiling, but we are completely ill-equipped to deal constructively with the situation we find ourselves in, leading to planetary damage and the clash of the cultures.

The organic result creeping up on us is that the visionary species do have the power to give us a remarkably safe journey, so we can actually come to discover how this whole cosmic emergence actually works. Far from being a superficial substitute for hard-earned spiritual devotion, by comparison with 'genuine' experiences of the devoted, they show us our own cosmic nature coming up to meet us, which is at once the universe's cosmic consciousness coming to realize itself too.

There is no god, but religious experience is real and integral to how both conscious existence and the physical universe become a fully evolved sentient cosmology.  Living sacraments are conduits to the transcendental capacities of the doors of perception, so become the natural sacraments for genuine sacramental religion.

At the centre of the cyclone is the acid test - helping to bring about a change in our conscious perspective, in which we can come to understand that the highest priority in our spiritual and life quest is preserving the fertility of the living planet, so that the passage of the generations can continue to prosper, and so that our offspring and their offspring can continue to live in peace and plenty in the planetary biosphere. A biosphere which would be paradise, given the knowledge we have gained by the third millennium, were we not hell bent, through our own folly and lack of foresight, to seriously compromise the fecundity of the planet through ill-conceived human impact on the Earth's living diversity and hence undermine the security of our own future as a species.

Tree of Life - The central enigma of the religious universe

This is the Path of the Tree of Life, which is at once the immortal tree of evolution of the diversity of life, and the fabled spiritual Tree of Life, hidden since the foundation of the world in the Fall from Eden, which returns in the apocalyptic unveiling, to sustain us spiritually with its sacred fruit. So, in the path of the Tree of Life, lies both the natural destiny of religion and the spiritual fulfillment of the natural universe.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

"Mashiach of the Tree of Life?"

What do I mean when I say I am "Mashiach of the Tree of Life"?

A messiah is a prophetic hero, or heroine, who brings about an age of long-term future goodness. I am making a root challenge to the existing order, which people will come to find is as controversial and explosive as the teachings in the year zero, because it will overturn both our religious and scientific ideas of the universe in a conscious chain-reaction.

Beyond the apocalyptic age of tumult and triage lies the immortal age of the Tree of Life, hidden since the Fall from Eden, but promised in the Unveiling. We all yearn for this. Not only is it the healing of all our fear, pain and mortal angst, but it is essential for the survival of our offspring and the immortal passage of the generations that we can discover how to come together to cherish the Earth and replenish its natural living diversity, while at the same time coming to know in our own illumination the transcendental nature of the conscious quest in the universe face to face, here and now. I am the conduit for this process and I have the credentials to bring it about successfully.

With my commitment, and your support, the future survival of the human race and the diversity of life can be protected. Given your trust, I do have the capacity to show you how to bring about the age of reflowering, in which all our living futures can be realized, the rape of the planet healed and the clash of the civilizations resolved, by being a healing mirror unraveling both religious imperatives and pretensions which could destroy us, and ill-conceived human impacts which could lay waste to our planetary future. This is a mirror which fills the void between nature and transcendence and shows how we each and all can become a meaningful part of the planetary awakening, through which we no longer see through a glass darkly, but now face to face.

You don't have to take this on faith. You can hold me to account as a personal colleague and peer. I can demonstrate my integrity, and show you exactly how this process comes about. I can make real the veracity of my challenge to the existential condition to end the era of the Fall and bring about the closing circle of reconciliation in reflowering the life tree in both natural and scientific terms and in fulfilling the religious and spiritual destinies of humanity, but I need your wholehearted support for this protection to become a reality.

I am not a cult leader or guru, but merely a sacramental agent through which the mystery becomes revealed to all of us in a way which can become a coherent expression of human illumination we can all share, see, feel and manifest. I am not Jesus, or a reincarnation of Jesus, but the eye of the hurricane. I have the living credentials to be the person in the place at the time to reflower the living tradition and fertilize the immortal age of paradise.

This is a quest that has many echoes in history, from our gatherer-hunter emergence out of Africa, through the Fall from Eden to Apocalypse and Armageddon, in the lives of Solomon and Jesus too, but the real test is not in the crises and heroic figures of former times who are forerunners of the real awakening, but now in this generation and into the verdant and fertile future, because we stand at a tipping point for the planet and this is the time the full awakening runs its course and we discover the universe is not meaningless, but alive and personal in its full transcendental consciousness.

More to come: 31st May 2012

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Unravelling Revelation

Guido Reni Archangel Michael defeating Satan (Wikimedia)
Elaine Pagels' cover piece.

This article is a response to Elaine Pagels' latest book "Revelations: Vision, Prophecy & Politics in the Book of Revelation, Viking Press 2012, which gives an intriguing account of the history and politics and cultural nuances of the last and most controversial book in the Bible, augmented by further research on my part into some of the points raised.

The Book of Revelation of John of Patmos, an island off the Turkish coast,  is an intensely imaginative and sweepingly grand portrayal of final end of days confrontation, amid a triage of life and hideous scenes of carnage and destruction, leading eventually to the establishment of the rule of God under Christ in the heavenly Jerusalem surrounded by the Lamb and the Tree of Life.

Nevertheless, Revelation did not invent the apocalyptic scenario and many of its fantastic scenarios and political diatribes lie in a continuum with a sequence of other apocalyptic revelations from Ezekiel through Zechariah to Daniel. It is resplendently surrealistic in its portrayal of angels, monsters, trumpets and horsemen of the apocalypse and contains overflowing allusions to the empires which have consumed Israel and the Christian movement over the period from Jesus crucifixion to the time John of Patmos wrote, also extending to the subsequent violent suppression of charismatic Christian movements, and in later centuries, in terms of the enemies of traditional religion and those 'heretics' who have challenged the established order.

Revelation is conceived and written some time between Nero and the end of Domitian's reign around 90 AD.  Revelation's writing places it closer to John's gospel in its sentiment and polemic than Pauline Christian writing, but scholarly opinions are that John the Apostle, John the Evangelist and John of Patmos were three separate individuals. The textual structure is very different from John's Gospel, displays little or no knowledge of Hebrew and is written in a feral colloquial style of Greek language distinct from John's Gospel, which some people have claimed is intentional. However it displays Jewish sentiments, including the 144,000 corresponding to the 12 tribes and invocations concerning eating and sex which are closer to Jewish Christian practices than Pauline gentile Christianity.

 William Blake The Number of the Beast (Wikimedia)

The number 666 could refer to Domitian as the archetypal tyrant in Nero's name and may derive from Hebrew gematria. Preterist theologians, who believe the account refers to historical events at the time of writing, adhere the idea that Nero is the man the number refers to. The the many headed monsters may thus reflect seven roman emperors and vanquishing of the dragon falls in a tradition running right back to Tiamat the original mother of chaos in the Babylonian creation myth. The Oxyrhynchus text fragment of Revelation and several other old texts have 616 rather than 666 and early church fathers also claimed the number was 616, throwing the numerology of Revelation into chaos.

The stark unyielding confrontation of Revelation, in a cosmic war between good and evil, in which the enemy is both without in the form of violent political dominion, and within in terms of heretics who claim to be believers in the true path, but are cursed as satanic, is highly polarized by comparison with other revelation accounts, many of which are more capable of expressing accommodation to the spiritual truth underlying the existential condition, despite the vagaries of mortal existence and political and religious injustice.

Such revelations include contemporary Jewish prophetic scriptures and several of the gnostic apocalypses, which envisage spiritual redemption in this world - Zostrianos, Peter and Salathiel the Jew, the Secret John and the Secret James. Many of these also are accounts by an author in severe distress about the world condition and whose resolutions of the crisis are significantly different from John of Patmos's final solution. For example Salathiel, who was a contemporary of John of Patmos faced a paradoxical challenge from the angel Uriel to his complaint about why God had allowed Babylon to oppress God's followers, giving him koans akin to those given to Job, although in the end Salathiel likewise comes to a judgment of fire and brimstone. However in the end he produces 90 books, some canonical and others secret and esoteric, reflecting an inner elect mystical tradition similar  to that pracitsed by early Christians before the gnostic gospels were suppressed.

In the secret Revelation of John, Jesus, rather than appearing as the symbolic Lamb or a feudal Lord on a white horse, is a great shining light similar to Paul's vision, who shows him inner mysteries that God transcends anything we can understand and why people have mistaken the external appearances for the inner reality. In the Secret Revelation of James, Jesus is said to appear in human form a full eighteen months after his crucifixion and long after his presumed ascent into heaven in the Pauline accounts,  presenting teachings to the twelve disciples for them to disseminate to the future generations. There are thus many different ways visionary prophets have envisaged apocalyptic revelation by no means all of them leading to scorched-earth division. Zostrianos rather than condemning the universe to triage, declares his own salvation through his sinner light "I realized that the power in me was greater than the darkness, because i contained the whole light." Peter in like vein is consumed by the light after falling fearful when approached by the priests and people with stones.

The Book of Revelation curses not just the beasts of political repression, but treats Christian 'heretics' just as much as agents of evil, thus acting both against the villains of dominion and other Christian movements with different spiritual approaches. It is thus a two-edged labrys, which can be conveniently wielded against any opponent inside or out.

Unlike the assumptions of Catholic Christianity, Revelation does not fit neatly into a continuum with Pauline beliefs and casts a portrait more consistent with Jewish observances. Invocations against heretics include Jezebel who might be identified with one of the prominent Christian female charismatics and those who eat food sacrificed to idols and practice 'fornication', suggesting Pauline gentiles were also regarded as diabolical. Fornication may apply to Jews marrying gentiles and thus include the entire sweep of gentile Christianity. The invocation against unconsecrated food likewise runs back to the disagreements between Paul and Peter and James at Antioch over the gentile Christians eating un-kosher food and not keeping the Jewish observances.

Although these invocations against heretics may have included Pauline gentile Christianity on the writer's part, they were centuries later to be used against those Christians who didn't adhere to the Catholic party line, once Athanasius, who did support the inclusion of Revelation, although virtually all of his contemporaries did not, issued his edict against apocryphal works and the gnostic gospels were suppressed. However Christianity didn't exist as such when John of Patmos wrote, being coined first as a term of abuse and then claimed by Ignatius calling himself Christophoros (90-110).

Revelation dwells strongly on political elements casting opposing forces into cosmic battle in reflection of Rome oppressing the Christians resulting in martyrdoms under emperors such as Nero, just as it had laid siege to Jerusalem, climaxing again in a second wave of martyrdoms in the early 300s. Consequently Justin, Iraneus  (160-180) Tertullian and others of the New Prophecy, a revival of end of days sentiments, adopted Revelation as a prophetic expression of the times. These sentiments continued to be fed by violent suppression of the Christians up to the early fourth century, including Perpetua, whose tragic visionary tale is told so beautifully by Elaine Pagels in "Adam, Eve and the Serpent" (pp 34-40), thus having a catalytic effect on the notion that the Book of Revelation was a truly prophetic account of dire travails of the Christian community.

Then Constantine in 312 suddenly caused a revolution to Christianity as the state religion. When the Arian controversy with Bishop Alexander occurred, Constantine attended the convention at Nicea in 325 in person to try to convince all parties not to dispute on insignificant points. Athanasius at the tender age of 18 as secretary to Alexander then settled the dispute by setting out the Nicene Creed and Arius was exiled. Subsequently other original thinkers, such as Pelagius, although supported by ‪Julian of Eclanum,‬ met a similar fate.

Athanasius  embarked on a long political career, becoming the governing prelate of Egypt by guile and relentless contestation with his opponents. When Alexander died a council of 50 bishops convened to choose a successor, but seven others met separately and ordained Athanasius, who quickly sent a message to Constantine, quoting a decree from the city council as proof, which was hotly contested. During his 46 years as bishop Athanasius was deposed and sent into exile five times, furiously writing against his enemies, gaining the title "Athanasius against the world", and being accused of blocking grain shipments from Alexandria to Constantinople and even murder.

However, particularly in Egypt, there was an established tradition of spiritual discovery through individual meditative exploration which became coordinated into a monastic movement by Pachomias who gathered such seekers into cooperative male and female communities ad had a large community near Nag Hammadi.

Although such seekers followed Christian practices, there was at this time no established New Testament canon, so the practices of such communities included using a variety of texts involving spiritual exploration embracing the Nag Hammadi texts as well as those such as Revelation that have become part of the canonical scripture. This provides a more balanced picture of spiritual explorations at the time, which encompass texts lying outside Christianity such as the Discourse on the Eight and Ninth to Hermes Trismegistus and enigmatic gnostic works such as Thunder - Perfect Mind in which the contrary elements set in cosmic opposition in Revelation are instead in complementation in the paradox of existence.

The Pope and below Martin Luther each decried as antichrist
in the spirit of Revelation

However, when Pachomias died of the plague in 346, Athanasius took the opportunity to reign in these wilder explorations in favor of a strictly Catholic approach. In 367 Athanasius defined what can and can't  be read, including Revelation among his approved canon. Athanasius, to cement his claimed definition of the canon, declared that No one may add to or remove from this list, just as John of Patmos had done in Revelation itself effectively condemning anyone who might have a differing interpretation.

Luther as antichrist

Nevertheless nearly all of his contemporaries excluded it.  Cyril did not include it, and Eusebius called it both universally accepted and illegitimate, placing it both among the canonical and condemned texts. Dionysus called it unintelligible, irrational and the title false. Syrian Christians rejected it because the charismatic Montanists had embraced it, considering it a work of heretics. This degree of controversy continued into later centuries with Martin Luther condemning Revelation as "Having no Christ in it" although later espousing it because it could be used to advantage against the Catholics.

Eventually this canon came to be confirmed at the Council of Carthage 397 finally giving Revelation approved status ad the closing chapter of the end of days mirroring the beginning of days in Genesis thus making a fitting, if gratuitously violent apocalyptic ending to what would have seemed an insipid collection of Pauline epistles without it.

In later centuries the protestant supporters of Luther (although he initially decried it) and with him Calvin, would use it's sentiments against the Pope as antichrist and the Catholics in turn would do the same against Luther illustrating one another in copies of their respective bibles, just as it still stands today in the minds of fundamentalists as the prophetic oracle for our own apocalypse in the time of mutually assured destruction of nuclear confrontation, being better dead than red, or victorious over the heathen other in a final confrontation between Christianity and Islam or merely the victory of believers over the forces of materialism overtaking a flawed and degenerating world.

Why is Sex Clandestine in Humans?

Secrecy under the Covers

Unlike other species, humanity has devised a whole suite of ways to make sex private, concealed, indeed clandestine.

Despite counter-currents from modern swingers parties back to Roman orgies, most human societies keep sex private. Of course many conservative societies impose moral laws on modesty which invoke severe punishments such as stoning for adultery and stipulate dress codes which cover all their feminine features, not just their sexual organs, from the fig leaves of genesis on down. But why is this? Why do married people still keep their sex private from others when as long as they remain faithful, it should't matter if they have sex with one another in public? In fact in many ways, if we insisted sex was made in public, we would have a much better idea of who was having sex with who and keep better track of assumed infidelity.

 So is this something men have imposed on women as one might assume from the ways Muslims and many other conservative religions try to cover up women so no other man can see them and chaperone them with relatives so they have no personal freedoms at all, all the time threatening them with dire punishments if they transgress?

On the other hand one can see why women might want to keep sex private under these constraints too because it avoids them becoming vulnerable to accusations of infidelity, or siring an offspring with an alien man in a moment of love, passion or the allure of superior genes or exotic complementary histcompatability antigens as human pheromone tests have shown women are very sensitive to for reasons of providing their offspring with improved immunity to disease.

Named and Shamed. An adulterous couple put on public display in Japan.

So is sexual secrecy driven by men or women or both? Sexual privacy in humans is a complex process which seems to be a combined product of both male and female strategies.  

In primates, where there is strong male competition, such as orangutans and gorillas, alpha males copulate openly, but subordinate males are so discrete that no one realized they did at all until genetic paternity testing came along. Female dominated bonobos by contrast have sex openly, while chimps have an overt estrus in which the dominant male clan have sex openly, but females may also go on discrete safari with select males.

Humans have a complex sexual history. Although like most apes, most human societies are female exogamous so the females 'migrate' to the male's extended family, and men have traditionally struggled zealously to control female reproduction, out of a fear of paternity uncertainty, women have won a good degree of control from men by evolving concealed ovulation and continual sexual receptivity to confuse paternity and enable female reproductive choice to operate (Ethology and Sociobiology, vol 14, p 381). Female reproductive choice, after all is the principal form of genetic selection among mammals where females have a vastly higher parenting investment in live offspring, lactation and in humans long-term child rearing, which gives the females an incentive to be very choosy about who they sire with and also to seek privacy for sex to give more freedom of choice of lovers without consequences such as infanticide, or losing the support of a husband for their children. 

 Paradoxically Jesus decried divorce but forgave adultery.

Humans have also evolved to engage in pair-bonded parenting, with the emotional bond of love entering into the sexual equation and the stakes becoming even higher for discovery of infidelity.
One can also see reasons why males might also want to keep sex private to avoid resentment and competition from other males who they might need to be in coalition with to preserve positions of power. For human males sex becomes a precious commodity and to avoid jealousy and envy for one's own male mates it is easier to be discrete in the same way people conceal food in a time of famine.

Thus it looks like the female and male reproductive strategies, although differing vastly in terms of reproductive investment, both come together in favoring clandestine sex for paradoxical reasons.
Clandestine copulation thus becomes a unique and intriguing male-female trade-off, in which relationships are strengthened, but infidelity becomes easier, enabling us to be socially monogamous but not sexually monogamous in a context where frequent social sexuality is the emotional glue of familial romantic and erotic relationships (See also: Human nature: Being clandestine New Scientist 23 April 2012 Bob Holmes and Kate Douglas).

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Consciousness, Free Will and the Physical Universe

This article is to outline a radical cosmological model, in which consciousness and free will have a central formative role in the evolution of the physical universe.

To begin, let's be clear about what we mean about these two elusive terms, consciousness and free will.

By consciousness I mean the innate capacity to have subjective experiences, the personal experiences of waking life, dream, memory and reflection and those other inner states we sometimes associate with vision, or even hallucination. This does not have to imply self-consciousness, nor is it the external differentiation between waking alertness of being conscious of a particular thing, or event, as opposed to being asleep, or in a coma, but the root capacity to have subjective sensory and other internal experiences.

By free will I mean the capacity to make autonomous personal decisions in a manner that is not completely pre-determined by the circumstances around us, including supposed logical causality, or the assumed determinism, or randomness, of physical processes. This doesn't imply will is absolutely free of external constraints, but that there is sufficient freedom for us to make autonomous decisions when we feel we do so, given the circumstances in which we find ourselves.

All sane people, whatever their proclivities, from religious fundamentalism to materialistic atheism, have a central investment and belief in their own personal autonomy. Although we know many of our life situations and decisions are wholly or partly determined by past and present circumstances around us, we all have an unswerving commitment to preserving our own personal autonomy and vehemently reject attempts by others to encroach on our sense of self and put us in a perceived state of psychological or physical entrapment.

The rule of law likewise depends on the principle that people are accountable for their actions because they have the freedom of choice to distinguish between right and wrong. Legal pleas of diminished culpability often hinge around attempting to demonstrate that this conventional assumption is mitigated through genetic predisposition, overwhelming emotional factors, or by reason of insanity, but otherwise the assumption is that a human of sound mind is culpable for their decisions and thus has the autonomous ability to make them.

However these social assumptions seem to be in conflict with the objective description of a physical universe, in which cause and effect predominates, and in which our decisions appear to be merely a product of biological brain function, determined in turn by the chemical dynamics of the molecules of which we are composed, in which subjective conscious appears to have no role, lacks any status as an objectively observable physical phenomenon we can reproducibly demonstrate in the laboratory, and is at best a kind of internal model of reality constructed by the brain to aid its responses to environmental threats and opportunities.

But this is an entirely insane proposition. It is one thing to embrace a vague existential philosophy paying lip service to the assumption that our subjective impressions are fooling us, while the underlying reality is just that of a very complicated machine. However anyone who seriously believed we have no personal autonomy, in full actuality, would become catatonic, unable to make any kind of autonomous conscious decision, being just a helpless product of their all too inevitable brain processes.

Although, as biological organisms existing in a physical universe composed of atoms and molecules, we are dependent on the physical world around us for our survival, and for our somewhat fragile brains and bodies to function, all our actual experience of the world, from birth to death, is gained purely and exclusively through our subjective conscious experience. Far from being the root existential reality, the physical world actually has a secondary derived status, as the common sense consensus of our shared personal experiences.

The complementarity of subjective consciousness and the objective physical universe is a root paradox that lies at the source of all our existential dilemmas, our religious visions and fantasies and any complete description of reality. Despite the ephemeral fragility of our biological brains in a wild universe at large, the veridical universality of subjective consciousness may be a more valid starting point for a complete cosmological description, as the medium through which we as conscious sentient beings, build up a consensual description of the objective physical world around us, in contrast to a purely objective description based on the physical universe, where all subjective experiences remain unverifiable shadow entities.

Although consciousness appears from outside to be merely an internal model of reality constructed by the brain, which includes non-physical experiences such as dreaming, how this internal reality is generated by the brain remains scientifically baffling and is in fact, sine qua non, the deepest unsolved problem of cosmology, more intractable even than the theory of everything we hope might unite gravity and the other cosmological forces of nature.

How the brain actually generates consciousness remains elusive, no matter how closely we pore over brain function using magnetic resonance imaging and magneto- and electro-encephalography. The best anyone has come up with so far is that conscious decisions involve the whole brain in coordinated functionality while subconscious processing happens regionally in a less connected manner.

We can begin to gain a clearer idea of what we are actually facing in this area if we look more closely at what conscious brains actually do for the organism. The notion that causal circumstances fully determine our decision making is pretty much a fantasy. In fact most decisions happen because there are many possible courses of action, not just one prevailing one determined causally by circumstances.

Moreover, most of the central decision-making dilemmas facing a living organism in the open environment are computationally intractable ones which a classical computer would be unable to solve in real time because the number of contingent factors grow super-exponentially causing the computer brain to become stranded at the crossroads. The salient example of such a situation is the traveling salesman problem - finding the shortest route around n cities. To solve this classically we have to test each path requiring n.(n-1).(n-2). ... .3.2.1 = n! ways. For say 5 cities this is trivial requiring checking 120 paths, but by the time we have 30 or so cities the problem could take the entire history of the universe to solve.

To get a really clear idea of what evolutionary advantages the conscious brain provides, consider a gazelle trying to get down to the water hole to drink and there are at least two paths, a shady one that might have a leopard and a stony one that might have a lion. Rather than trying to compute a solution the gazelle sniffs the air, listens carefully for any sounds of disturbance and sums up its experience intuitively in a hunch decision to take one of the paths, at the same time anxiously paranoid and ready to jump for its life at any discordant sensory shadow or rustle that might hint that a big cat is about to strike.

Note there is no logical way to determine where the predators are, only personal experience and intuitive hunch and the predators are also active sentent agents, so it is a prisoners' dilemma game of consciousness and will.

Subjective consciousness is clearly a supreme evolutionary adaption that anticipates threats to survival and the sometimes split-second application of conscious choice in will has just the required sliver of autonomy to alter outcomes in favor of survival, leading to a potentially endless chain of consequences that are responsible for the survival of our ancestors and our own ability to have the conscious experience of reading this article today.

Although philosophers have taken almost every conceivable position about free-will and its consistency, or inconsistency, with determinism, or quantum indeterminacy, traditional approaches to this problem are broadly divided between those with a 'religious' etiology and those based on 'scientific' notions of causality.

The religious view of free will is typified by the Judeo-Christian notion that God created the universe, but gave us free will to err so we could be punished. This gives rise to a limited freedom of will in a moral causality leading to eternal punishments in hell or a divine life in heaven. Even this degree of freedom has been theologically diminished by notions such as original sin, claiming that our freedom of choice has been fatally doomed by Eve's transgression in Eden in seducing Adam to eat the forbidden fruit.

This is really a conscious description, in which the natural physical world is just one facet of an imagined conscious realm that includes life after death, heaven and hell, demons and angels and in which the whole cosmological history is an apocalyptic passion play of humanity's disobedience to God's divine will.

Eastern traditions of Upanishadic and Buddhist thought add various degrees of subtlety to this picture. Buddhists believe in neither absolute free will, nor determinism. Buddhism preaches a middle doctrine, "inter-dependent arising" - something quite closely related to the picture we are going to unravel.

The religious perspective also leads to dualistic views, in which there are parallel streams of mental and physical phenomena. Descartes, who coined the term cogito ergo sum - "I think therefore I am" , envisaged a dualistic reality in which mental phenomena were concentrated in a homunculus, sometimes equated with the pineal body of the brain, where physical and mental processes were able to interact.

Tantric cosmology has subjectivity and objectivity starting out as a fully integrated complement, with Shiva and Shakti in intimate conjugal embrace, only to subsequently retreat into the dance of subjective consciousness distracted from its primordial awareness by becoming engrossed in the manifold phenomena of Maya in the physical world and its desires.

In contrast to the religiously-derived paradigms, the materialist perspective of physical determinism claims our decisions are just a product of our brain function, which is determined by past and present circumstances, through the mass action of molecular chemical processes following physical laws.

These ideas stem from a Newtonian classical idea of causality, made iconic by Laplace's claim that, given the equations of motion and the initial conditions, he could predict the future states of the physical universe.

However there are a host of reasons why this pre-destined view of the physical universe is incorrect. The first is that we have since discovered that the universe is not a classical mechanism, but is based on quanta which display complementary wave and particle aspects, which leave the actual evolution of the universe subject to quantum indeterminacy. We have also discovered that many unstable systems manifest chaotic dynamics, which although in a classical situation may be in principle deterministic, become unpredictable, due to the exponential growth of instabilities.

The advent of quantum physics has led some people, who would have denied free will because of physical determinism, to instead deny it because of the assumed randomness implied by quantum uncertainty.

This is where the exploration takes a really interesting and radical wist, so we need to examine the next few steps very carefully.

A quantum is a very paradoxical object. It can manifest either as a wave, or as a particle, but not both at the same time. The energy and momentum of the particle determine the frequency and wavelength of the wave and the squared amplitude of the wave in turn gives the probability of finding the particle at that point in space.

This means that quantum theory is a mix of two disparate ideas. The wave itself propagates deterministically according to a conservative wave equation, but the particle can appear anywhere in the wave, apparently randomly, with a probability fluctuating with the wave's amplitude.

To see how this works in practice, think of a wave interference experiment such as letting photons emitted from a light source pass through two slits to be absorbed on a photographic plate on the other side. Each photon is initially emitted as a discrete particle by an excited atom in the source, and then travels as a wave through both slits, before again being absorbed as a particle by an atom on the photographic plate.

We know the photon is a wave in between, because it passes through both slits and we get an interference pattern of bands on the photographic plate that correspond exactly to the interference of the waves emerging from each of the two slits, in the same way the rainbow colours on the underside of a CD are caused by wave interference of the grooves in the CD formed by the closely-spaced circular tracks.

This paradoxical quantum nature leads to all sorts of counter-intuitive consequences.

Firstly, it is possible to alter the experiment after the quantum has already been released, to change it retrospectively. For example we can cover one slit, or place a particle detector in it, after the photon is released from the source. The wave interference will then disappear and we will have a particle detection instead. This "delayed choice" type of experiment has become the basis of experiments on quantum erasure, where we can create and subsequently erase a quantum effect by recombining waves after the particle is emitted.

Another very intriguing counter-intuitive manifestation of quantum reality is the phenomenon of quantum entanglement. There are a number of ways we can, instead of just producing one particle in a wave function, produce two or more entangled in the same wave function. When we do this, although each of the particles has an undetermined random position and polarization within the amplitude fluctuations of the wave function, if we sample the state of one particle, the other instantaneously has the complementary properties, without requiring the time light would take to cross space following relativity constraints.

These two properties in combination imply that quantum uncertainty connects past and future states in a hidden anticipative hand-shaking relationship and that the apparent randomness in where the particle appears in the wave , the so-called collapse of the wave function, masks a hidden interconnectedness which we can see more clearly when two particles are caught in the same wave. All quantum interactions are in-principle time-reversible, reinforcing this hand-shaking view.

Quantum uncertainty leads to another notorious experiment which shows us how subjective consciousness might actually interact with the quantum world. Erwin Schrödinger, one of the founders of quantum mechanics, pointed out that, while the quantum description provides only a probability, our conscious experience reveals an actuality.

In his somewhat macabre experiment, he had a cat in a box with a flask of cyanide which would be released if a sample emits a radioactive scintillation, thus killing the cat. Because the scintillation is determined by the wave function of a leaky nucleus, quantum theory predicts the cat is both alive with probability p and dead with probability 1-p but when we open the box, the cat is demonstrably alive or dead, but not both.

There have been all manner of attempts to resolve this problem. Some physicists have indeed suggested that it is the consciousness of the observer which collapses the wave function. Some have said the wave function never collapses, but the future universe and us with it become endlessly divided into probability universes in which every outcome happens, but the probability clones of ourselves in each branch don't know the others exist.

Others have attempted to finesse the problem away by claiming that the quantum wave becomes fragmented in decoherence caused by interaction with other particles, in the process of an isolated quantum interacting with a macroscopic system containing many particles. But the problem remains that quantum theory predicts essentially an infinity of overlapping probability states replicating out of every interaction with no way to distinguish them - a problem I will call the dilemma of superabundance.

Rather than a superabundant superposition of all past and future multiverses, the universe we experience has an arrow of time in which there is a unique historical process emerging out of the vast collocation of possibilities emerging from all the interactions taking place - a process I will term historicity - the capacity to have a history emerging from the process which means that Napoleon didn't win the battle of Waterloo and Nelson did defeat the Danish after looking through the telescope with his blind eye and claiming not to see the signal of discretion to withdraw.

This adds plausibility to the notion that subjective consciousness, which appears to stand outside all objective physical phenomena, is a complementary phenomenon to the physical universe, which has a pivotal role in influencing its outcomes by reducing the superabundance of super-positions to an historical trajectory.

Now there are other reasons coming from cosmological physics itself which add weight to this argument. Not only are wave and particle paradoxical complements, along with the force-bearing bosons and matter forming fermions, but there is a fundamental inconsistency in the physical description between quantum theory and general relativity. While general relativity ties the dynamical attributes of energy and momentum to the curvature of space-time, quantum theory ties them to frequency and wavelength within space and time, an inversion of the relationship. While we are all hoping to come up with a consistent theory of everything, there is no guarantee the standard model of physics will extend to a consistent 'atomic', or string-based description amenable to a bottom-up causality based on principles of symmetry and symmetry-breaking. There are also signs that to resolve the existing forces consistently, other forces, such as hyper-weak and/or techni-color, might need to be invoked, leading to a potential fractal regress of natural laws.

Thus it has been suggested by physicists Brian Josephson, Lee Smolin and others, that the cosmological description may be fundamentally participatory, in a manner in which biological and evolutionary principles are central to cosmology and in which participatory recognition of descriptive signs formulating the model of reality are fundamental.

Certainly the brain is the most complex and fully elaborated cosmological expression of the four forces of nature in the quantum universe, being the most complete and elaborate expression of the two nuclear forces, and electromagnetism interacting under gravity to make the fractal supra-molecular complexes we call cell organelles, cells and tissues, alongside which the interiors of stars and even potentially those from black holes to dark matter are simpler and more energetically chaotic by comparison.

This provides a reason why subjective consciousness, as we know it, could be a phenomenon, not just of idiosyncratic biological evolution, but a fundamental property of cosmological physics and all wave-particle quanta, expressed most saliently in the conscious brain. This is consistent with the philosophies of Tantra and the Tao, both of which involve a complementarity between subject and object which admits a participatory cosmology which may be complete.

However it is scarcely credible that we fragile humans, together with some relatively similar vertebrates and a host of disparate arthropods, worms, fungi and plants could be solely responsible for the palpable existence of a universe full of vast energies and all-consuming galaxies and black holes, so the necessity for a participatory cosmology may mean there are other undiscovered forms of subjectivity, including forms associated with uncertain or chaotically unstable physical phenomena on a planetary, stellar or cosmic scale which, together with our conscious awareness, and those of the biota complete the capacity of the uncertain quantum universe to form a trajectory of historical becoming.

Because of the nature of subjectivity, which is not amenable to external observation, we would have little or no objective evidence for the subjective aspects of such unfamiliar processes. We have an intuitive impression that other humans have subjective awareness because we share subtle and complex forms of physical communication with people we know and particularly people we love. The brain is richly wired with mirror neurons because we have evolved as social beings highly adapted to sensing the conscious experiences of others through subtle clues.

At a base level we can envisage a subjective aspect being associated with the wave-particle complementarity and uncertainty of every quantum. Candidates for a coherent complementary subjective aspect might include chaotic weather processes such as climatic storms, the fluctuating dynamics of unstable lasers, the turbulent interiors of stars and even the intense vortices of black holes. However one should note that, in the context of the brain, several characteristics distinguish conscious awareness from the sub-conscious processing of individual brain areas, requiring coherent focused activity of the whole brain, and the capacity for memory to lay down a temporal trace which we can recall and recognize later. Even the conscious dreaming brain can lose sight of its wild internal adventures, when the dream process is so distractible that we often fail to recall we even had a dreaming experience, when we are jolted awake.

At face value this sounds a lot like an animistic or pantheistic cosmology, but it is neither based on animal spirits as such, nor the idea that nature deities permeate natural phenomena, but rather the universality of the subjective aspect of existential reality, given conducive physical circumstances. Hence the idea can act as an oracle for widening our notions of theology, deity and religion into a more reflective cosmological viewpoint.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Andes Amazon Millennium

Join and enjoy the Andes Amazon Millennium journey the just completed a blog of our Millennial trip from the Andes down the Amazon to Rio to document the destruction of biodiversity.

Friday, January 6, 2012

CA2D My Cellular Automata Application for Mac

Download from : CA2D Application

I've just finished developing a racy cellular automata application for Mac which has fast high resolution displays of some of the most interesting of these intriguing systems with formula inputs for generating more new examples than would fill a lifetime.